Over the last few years I've been fortunate enough to travel to Davos, Switzerland during the World Economic Forum's annual meeting of the 1,500 or so most powerful and influential people in the world. Attendees include Presidents and other Heads of State, Royalty, CEOs, Billionaires, Renowned Researchers and many of the Greatest Minds the world has ever known. One thing that I've consistently observed is the significant lack of melanin amongst attendees and while I understand that Black folks may not be the most avid skiers in the world, as the very first people to inhabit this great planet, there has to be more of us who can contribute to the Forum's mission of improving the state of the world.
One consistent similarity amongst all of the attendees that I observed was their wealth and their sheer access to capital. This got me to thinking about the Black experience here in the states and question whether we had wealth at any scale as well as access to capital. Sadly, the results turned out to be much more bleak than I initially imagined.
So here's what I was able to learn.... About 7% of the U.S. population are millionaires. That's 7 out of 100 people. Or 22 million people out of the 319 million people that live in the U.S. Out of that 22 million, Black folks only make up 1 tenth of 1 percent of those millionaires for a total of 35,000 people. Let's put that in perspective, if you have a room full of 100 people, on average, 7 of those people are millionaires. If you're looking for Black folks, you need 100 rooms of 100 people to find a single Black millionaire. That means that 1 out of every 10,000 people is a Black millionaire. To get to 7 Black millionaires, you need 700 rooms of 100 people or 70,000 people to find 7 Black millionaires. So basically, the only place you'll find 7 Black millionaires in 1 room is at the Superbowl.
Given that millionaires typically roll together, I then asked how many Black people do we need in a room to get to 1 Black millionaire. We know that Black folks make up 13% of the population or roughly 41.5 million people. Assuming that there are 35,000 Black millionaires that means that .08% of Black people are millionaires. In short, there's about 1 Black millionaire to every 1,200 Black people. That's similar odds to becoming a Hollywood Star or a Professional Athlete. It can happen, but not everyone's gonna be Eddie Murphy or Michael Jordan.
I went into that long drawn out somewhat statistical analysis in order to draw your attention to the vast inequities of the Black experience in the U.S. but also to follow up on that with simple rational solutions to improve outcomes generations to come. Regardless of how altruistic one may be, we must accept the reality that all good things still come with a tangible financial cost. And he who waves the pen to write the check is he who has the power and the influence. A stage as prominent as Davos is one who is secretly changing the very way we live our every day lives across much of the world and with minimal participation from anyone whom is Black means that issues facing the Black community on a global scale are not and will never be at the forefront of the global or national agenda until we gain a seat at the table. And we can protest as much as we like but the only true method to gain the necessary influence to impact Black folks around the world is to build financial affluence reflective of our demographic representation. That means that if Black folks make up 13% of the population of the U.S. than instead of a 0.01% representation of our nation's wealth we must represent 13% of our nation's wealth. That's a growth of 1,300%. An extremely steep climb that will likely take generations to get there but a concerted effort must be taken by both the majority and the Black community to make this happen. Here are a few of my recommended solutions to get us there within the next 50 or so years:
Our societal norms must change from encouraging Black youth to pursue career paths of least resistance to pursuing career paths most likely to lead to financial prowess.
Intentional access to our most profitable careers like Entrepreneurship, Hedge Fund Management, Investment Banking, etc. must be afforded in our traditional K-12 public schools vs. the current elite circles that few of us even know exist.
The over representation of Black students pursuing our nation's lowest paying professional careers must be turned on its head. This may seem like a radical idea but we need to consider methods to limit Black student participation in majors that don't even afford them the opportunity to repay their student loans and expand opportunities to majors that almost certainly lead to affluence.
Maybe even revisit Affirmative Action and instead of researching statistics on employment data coming into an organization we can explore minority representation at the highest ranks of the organization to ensure some level of adequacy across the entire organizational structure.
Again, these are 10,000 foot level proposed solutions that could at a minimum take a half century to implement but there's never a time like the present to focus on changing the future. We're at a historical landmark, particularly in the U.S., where the collective Black voice is once again nearly muted to other issues facing our society but the plight, while admittedly different from that of our predecessors 50 years ago, still exists today and will only change if we lead the charge. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!